Harvard's Regional Planning School has up and died--again. Last time was in 1936, when such a hubbub arose, and so much criticism fell upon the Administration from influential sources, that the corpse had to be disinterred a year later, revived with a liberal shot of University funds. But the elixir has been potent for only three years, and now, it seems, Regional Planning is slipping back into limbo.
Lit is fading out of the picture very quietly and decently this time, with the consoling voice of Dean Hudnut murmuring in the background, "I do not consider it a tremendous calamity, if we have to suspend some of the courses for a year." The Dean sounds benign, but the last few years have shown that the Administration is something less than determined to continue the separate existence of the School. Budget restrictions have been blamed, and once the whole idea of regional planning in a national sense was attacked as smacking of totalitarianism. So it is significant that Dean Hudnut is making no promises this time that when the courses are given two years from now they will still be standing on their own feet, in a School of their own, and not tied to the apron strings of the School of Architecture.
Whatever the politico-philosophical views of Harvard's Regional Planners--and they seemed to meet the approval of the many high state and national government officials who protested suspension of the School in 1936--the University would be doing itself irreparable harm in abolishing the autonomy, if not the existence, of its Planning School. Whether Harvard's Administration likes them or not, the PWA, TVA, and WPA are carrying out the will of the majority of Americans that certain jobs be done, and done efficiently. And to do them efficiently, they need well-trained regional planners. Abolition of the Planning School will only have the effect of lowering the standards of these agencies, and because of Harvard's recognized preeminence in the field, it will be a considerable effect. In its decision the University cannot consider only its trust to the name of Harvard. It must also consider its trust to the principles of democracy.